Welcome back to the Lifestyle Blog: Motocross Training Series!
In Part 1, I briefly reviewed the Sport, Sport Demands, and Popular Training Approaches of Motocross Training. I gave you a quick back ground of the sport and essentially why it's important to be physically fit. There are many different philosophies for training motocross racers, but I'm writing this to share mine with you.
In Part 2, I'm going share my philosophy on the use of Strength Training and Plyometic Training when training Motocross Riders. I'll share my perspective in regards to utilizing Strength Training and I will share how common Plyometric exercises can be incorporated in a training plan for a Motocross Racer, in a way that many heavily overlook!
A lot of racers (and some Motocross Trainers) are intimidated when it comes to getting their racers stronger with lifting weights. Some even think it’s counterproductive to the sport. They may claim that it's the culprit to arm pump and that you don't need to get big and bulky as it will cause a decrease in a racer's endurance. The reality is, if you're an athlete and not lifting weights trying to improve strength levels, you are really missing the boat when it comes to improving Physical Performance. Even Golfers lift weights to perform better. Not taking anything away from Golfers, but when the recreational form of their sport is encouraged to drink beer while they play, it really says something when competitors still put in the work to improve their strength!
At my facility, our racers train all of the same compound movements (Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Rowing Variations) that the rest of my athletes perform. My goal is to get them as strong as possible with the given amount of time that we have to train. Strength gains are most important while not placing too much emphasize on building size. You can improve strength while not improving muscle mass. I do typically like to add some muscle mass (5-15lbs) to them if we feel it's needed so that they have added protection on their skeletal system when they crash. But if they’re serious racers, they will never really have the time to “get huge,” but I do want them to be put together as athletes; think a MMA Fighter frame, not a Bodybuilder frame.
The goal isn’t to give them so much volume that they turn into Elite Weight Lifters, but I don’t want them to have the same levels of strength as a marathon runner would have either. But in all reality, serious racers don’t even have enough time to perform enough Strength Training to get too big and too strong for their sport. When you factor in their aerobic training (we’ll get to that in Part 3) and all of their riding they need to do to keep skill level high, there simply isn’t enough time or energy to lift enough to make dramatic size increases. So, this is actually very important to understand, because the time that they do have for Strength Training, needs to be taken very seriously!
We don’t perform Plyometric Exercises so that they can jump higher and run faster. But we do use them as a means for them to train the shock component of these exercises. True Plyometric Training is actually intended to be Shock Training. Plyometrics cause a shock to the body and that is where athletes learn to absorb and produce force. I don't worry much about producing it with Motocross Racers because I'm mostly concerned with them being able to absorb it.
Why is this important? Well, remember in Part 1 when I discussed that the body needs to withstand forces from the track? Between Strength Training and learning to absorb forces using Plyometric methods in the gym, we can help train this ability to be prepared for optimal performance when racing.
We’ll do different jump/plyo methods so their lower body can withstand the forces on the track through their foot pegs and through the handlebars. For the upper body, I mostly use medicine balls to do a lot of reactive passes off of the wall or the ground. For the lower body, we’ll have them perform box jumps, altitude landings, reactive plyo jumps, and some reactive hurdle jumps.
While their bikes have suspension to absorb the forces from the track, the use of Strength Training and Plyometric (Shock) Training enhances the racer's ability in helping their bodies absorb the shock from the track. In addition, it helps them maintain proper riding technique. When a large shock happens to a racer during a race, it’s not uncommon to see hands come off of the bars, feet come off of the pegs, and see their heads simulate a whiplash pattern. We put the work in to prepare our athletes for these moments for their most effective racing performance.
In Part 3 of this Lifestyle Blog Series we'll be covering my philosophy on Conditioning for the Motocross Athlete.
See you in Part 3!
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Physical Prep Coach & Owner of Joel Younkins Training.